Always on the lookout for increases in efficiency, I love when I find a slick snippet of command line goodness that makes a hard sounding task simple and quick. I was tasked with creating an email list from a database and putting it into a csv format, and had only the command line to interface with the DB. My first attempt revolved around using the SELECT … INTO OUTFILE syntax. Unfortunately, I was unable to write out to a file with the DB user I had access to. What’s a fella to do?

Unix pipes to the rescue.

First, the whole command:

echo “select * from example;” | mysql -u user -p dbname | tr ‘^V^I’ ‘,’ > filename.csv

Let’s break this down, in case Ben is reading and can’t follow along. The echo statement contains your query. It is sent to the mysql command, which connects you to the database and executes the query, returning the data in tab-delimited format to the console. The tr command reads from STDIN, and replaces tabs (Ctrl-V Ctrl-I) with whatever delimiter you want (in this case the comma). The final touch is sending it to a file of your choosing.

*Note* – You actually have to type the Ctrl-V Ctrl-I when entering this command. Copy/paste won’t cut it in the example above.

*Note* – You typically do not want to actually enter your mysql password on the command line, as commands run are typically logged. Omit the password to force mysql to ask for it (it won’t interfere with the query). And if you don’t have your mysql access password protected, WTF? You’re asking for trouble.

So there you have it. Simple, easy to follow, effective. As always, this example can be extended into a variety of different ways. It’s up to you to figure it out (you can, of course, pay me to figure it out).

Comments are closed.